The crowd couldn't get any larger, so the Dearing Dream Team arranged room for growth. After approximately 400 people squeezed onto the small front lawn of the Dearing Town Hall last December for the inaugural Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, Mayor Sean Kelley said he was "overwhelmed by the support from this community."
So, this year's ceremony will take place at the Dearing Gymnasium.
"City Hall is just that - city hall," Mayor Kelley said. "It's not really a community center. So, logistically, it's a lot easier and a lot safer to have it at the gym, which is intended to be a community center."
Santa will come and light the 24-ft. tree outside in front of the gym. All other activities will take place inside, including pictures with Santa, a musical performance by Dearing Elementary School students, balloons and refreshments. All proceeds from the event go to the Dream Team's donation to the American Cancer Society at the annual Relay For Life.
Team Captain Beverly McCorkle-Welch said parents may purchase a 5x7 picture of their child with Santa for $5, or may bring a camera to take their own picture.
"We just ask that they give us a little donation if they take their own," she said. "Because it's all going to the cancer society."
For safety reasons, Mayor Kelley said no parking will be allowed along the highway. All cars parked along the highway will be towed.
The Mayor said he wants to thank Bobby Toulson and Andy Rodgers for helping him get the tree, and Hillcrest Farms for loaning him their trailer to haul it. Hillcrest also loaned the use of their truck for the mayor, Mr. Toulson and Mr. Rodgers to put the Christmas lights up around town. Dearing Fire Chief Danny Cason and deputies with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department directed traffic while the lights were being hung.
The tree lighting ceremony will begin at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5 at the Dearing Gymnasium on Hwy. 278.